The Faerie Ring
Copyright 1992, S Hartwell
laid me down to sleep away
The remnants of a smoky day,
My lungs still full of resin´s golden dope.
‘Twas late summer, leaves not yet yellow,
The air, like me, was warm and mellow,
As I inhaled more of that rainbow smoke.
‘Twas there I met the faerie folk
Conjured by the wreaths of smoke
Which hung about my head in crowns of thorn.
I lay within their faerie ring
Where at night they liked to sing
And where they had their summer dancing lawn.
From each pale toadstool sprang an elf,
Each introduced, by name, itself,
And joining hands they danced a sarabande,
While faeries shy and satyrs sly,
From the shadowed woods did prance and fly,
And joined the dancing circle hand in hand.
Pan upon his pipes of reed,
Played plaintive notes and I took heed,
As dryads joined the throng of beasts of myth,
To stately galliard and merry dance
The faerie folk did step and prance,
Till I grew dizzy with their careless frenzy.
Pan changed his tune, a wilder theme
From his pleasant pipes did stream
And ever faster spun the whirling dancers.
Then all at once, the dancing ceased,
The elves bowed low, their faces creased
In smiles which held me totally entranced.
A faerie called in lilting voice,
She piped my name and left no choice
But I would join the ring and take my place,
Whereupon the music spun;
A melody weaved well by Pan,
And then the dance began to pick up pace.
In wild arhythm the satyrs stepped,
Through rings of smoke the dryads leapt,
Pan piped his tunes and gauzy colours swirled;
I danced minuet, a wild gavotte,
A whirling waltz, a fey foxtrot
As the ethereal music shrieked and skirled.
A hundred voices chanted, sang,
About the meadow elflings sprang
And sprightly sprites and nymphs grew ever bolder,
Leaping through the air, on high.
With wicked twinkles in each eye
Were wicked whisperers seated on my shoulder.
The frantic beat of faerie drums,
Through the charged air throbbed and thrummed
And elven feet beat out the urgent tune,
For though I had not seen the light
Fade into grey, then black of night
I saw the shimmer of the argent moon
Rise full and shining through the mists,
To pour fair moonbeams ‘pon the myth,
Upon the faerie ring and faerie folk.
I gazed in awe as Luna swam,
In velvet night, and voices sang
Piping plainsongs weaving with my smoke.
From every throat a chorus poured,
To accompany their open awe,
And then the wild arhythm began anew;
With whirling faeries, leaping, bounding,
Pipes fluting music, tabors pounding
As the ring of dancers greater grew.
With shrieks of joy and wild song,
Others joined the spinning throng,
Fauns and naiads, maeneds high on wine.
Bacchus laughed and in the glow
Of gentle moonbeams, raw wine flowed
And I completely lost my sense of time.
A hearty voice spoke in my ear
As the wine god did appear
To offer me the fruits of vintner´s craft;
Sweet berry wines; intoxicating,
Raw rye spirit; invigorating,
I drank deep and bearded Bacchus laughed.
On grapes and raisins then we dined,
Washed down with draughts of ruby wine,
And then the merry party grew more wild;
Elves laughed and bared their pointed fangs
In dire voices naiads sang,
And drunken Bacchus poured more wine and smiled.
At me he pointed, made strange gestures,
Spoke in terms that were obscure;
His maened minions made haste to do his will,
Their clothes in shreds from wine´s excesses,
And vines entwined in raven tresses
They converged like jackals to a kill;
They shrieked obscenely, eyes red-rimmed
Their wild black tangles argent limned,
Painted fingernails like cruel daggers unsheathed,
Into a shrieking dance they swung,
Baring wicked curving fangs
As mulberry lips pulled back from thirsty teeth.
The faeries danced a waltz of woe
To Pan´s haunting pipe solo
And drums that beat a low funereal dirge,
While music maddened maeneds seek
Human flesh with claw and teeth
In response to Bacchus´ unspoke urge.
Pan bowed low, his goats tail twitching,
His horn-ed face strange and bewitching
His cloven hooves danced patterns in the grass
“‘Tis time, ’tis time, for merry thrills
Time to do as Bacchus wills!”
He cried striking up a tuneful reckless dance.
Ever faster leapt the fiends
To his dizzy-making dancing themes,
Their shrieks resounding in the velvet night
Elven faces laughed in glee
At my sad perplexity
As faces blurred and whirled in my eyesight.
The vicious faeries´ drunken mood
Could only be assuaged by blood
The satyrs tripped me with their cloven feet
As I stumbled, drink-sodden, round
The faeries´ dancing ground
While maeneds sought me with their bone-white teeth.
At blistering speed the scene revolved,
A maze of faeries, dryads, elves
Darting back and forth before my dazzled eyes
To block each hoped escape.
Between the fungi, faeries capered
Ready for the human sacrifice.
The music shrieked to a crescendo
Ever faster dancers go
Spiralling inwards to converge on me,
With painted claw and sharp white tooth,
Once I´d realised the truth
And found I´d nowhere left that I could flee.
In the east the pale dawn breaks
And soaked in dew my body wakes
Sprawled within a mystic faerie ring,
Was it a dream or did I really
Dance with sprites and was I nearly
Torn by maeneds while the elves did sing?
Among the dew drops on the short turf,
Pressed into the night damp dark earth
Were the prints of cloven, dancing hooves;
Did Pan´s dancers really tread
Upon this dewy summer meadow
With me among the whirling faerie troupe?
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